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The move represents a significant increase over the current SLA.

Microsoft is promising to raise the resiliency of Azure Active Directory by delivering 99.99% uptime from 1 April 2021. This represents an increase over the 99.90% rate in the current Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Azure Active Directory (AD) is a critical component in Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure. Customers can also set up Azure AD Connect to replicate an on-premises Active Directory with the Azure cloud equivalent. Azure AD is the directory used by Microsoft 365, and Windows 10 PCs can be set up to login using Azure AD.

When Azure AD fails, it prevents access not only to Microsoft 365 but also to key services like the Azure management portal. This in turn has a huge impact on enterprises and organisations relying on Azure cloud. An Azure AD failure can even impact some desktop applications like Microsoft Office and Visual Studio.

These apps can be configured to rely on the Azure AD service for checking for a valid subscription. A failure of the Active Directory would “lock out” users and prevent them from using the app.

“Raising the bar” to meet the new remote working boom

Nadim Abdo, who leads Microsoft’s core authentication and identity services, announced the enhanced SLA in a blog post last month.

“This change is the result of a significant and ongoing program of investment in continually raising the bar for resilience of the Azure AD service,” Abdo wrote.

“Because our identity services are vital to keep customer businesses running, resilience and security are and always will be our top priority.”

In the last year, Microsoft has seen a surge in demand as organizations moved workforces online and schools enabled study from home, Abdo explained. Indeed, some national education systems moved entire student populations online with Azure AD, he added.

“Azure AD is now serving more than 400 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) and processing tens of billions of authentications per day,” Abdo boasted. “We treat every one of those authentication requests as a mission critical operation.”  

Abdo also promised that Microsoft will also share their roadmap for the next generation of resilience investments for Azure AD and Azure AD B2C in early 2021.

Tip: Okta holds the key to future identity management